In 1992 Ray first went to the US Virgin Islands as a consultant, managing the implementation of a new student information system at the University of the Virgin Islands on the island of St. Thomas. Talk about a dream job! Well, it was actually hard work and not always a dream, but he fell in love with the place and the people, and when I was able to visit, so did I. After that initial job ended he stayed in touch and over the past 25 years he has returned numerous times for special projects at the university. We have made friends and shared in many memorable and beautiful adventures in that bit of paradise and have watched in horror as so much of it has been destroyed by Hurricanes this past month. Very alarming to me, has been the lack of attention the USVI has received from the news and the US government. I know—between hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes and even that volcano in the South Pacific, it's hard to know who needs help first or most. Everyone needs it. Most of us can't do much, but each of us can do something.
When Ray made that first trip, in 1992, I made the quilt, above, as a gift for him. It is called "Red Roofs of Charlotte Amalie." Charlotte Amalie is the main town on St. Thomas, famous for the beautiful, old white, shuttered houses with their distinctive red roofs. It was the first art quilt I ever entered in a juried show and it won a prize! It's old now, but still one of my favorites. It was made with love and has a lot of meaning. Last week I had prints of the quilt made to offer to anyone who would like to make a donation to Hurricane relief for The US Virgin Islands. Today's email from a friend in St. Thomas paints a grim picture of widespread destruction and difficulty. He writes:
"I've been working to replace the roofs that were blown off the small detached apartment. I'm sort of re engineering it to make it stronger so it won't happen again in the next hurricane. Getting plywood and screws has been a challenge. Fortunately I already owned many tools or this would be even more daunting. I'm replying to this now because it's raining again and I had to stop working outside.
I believe about 10 percent of St Thomas has electricity. St John is zero percent and St Croix is similar to here. I think about half of St Thomas has cell coverage and none on St John. There is a curfew between 7pm and 5am here. Other islands are different. There are still power lines and other debris on the roadways making travel dangerous. There are no traffic signals and most traffic signs are gone. Home Depot isn't really open other than for some lumber because of damage. Cost U Less is closed, a Costco knock off. There are lines at the gas stations that are open. Lines at banks and ATMs. To acquire anything may take all day. Few places have a connection to run credit cards. This is a cash economy. It's very weird.
I myself have bad days and worse days. I try not to think about what all has happened. It's too overwhelming. I'm trying to focus on fixing the apartment to get it rented and then fix the leaks in my house and then find full employment to see where that leaves me. My boat is so damaged I can't even sail away.....
Life is hard here. Many have left with no intention of returning. The numbers of homeless, jobless and prospect less is astounding."
So, here's my deal, my small "something"—make a donation of $10, or more to hurricane relief specifically designated for the USVI, and I will send you a 5" x 7" print of "Red Roofs..." I am donating the cost of printing and mailing, so your entire donation will benefit the Islands. Here are three ways you can do this:
- Use this PayPal button for your donation to my PayPal account. I will transfer all proceeds to the One America Fund, established by our five living past US presidents, for hurricane relief to the US Virgin Islands. (Be sure you include your name and mailing address. )
- Make your donation directly to the One America Fund (https://www.oneamericaappeal.org/), designating it for the Virgin Islands, then email me with your mailing address so I can send your print.
- Visit me in my studio during the Washington County Artists Open Studio Tour next weekend (October 21 & 22), see the original quilt on display, make a donation and take home your print.
Everything helps, Small donations add up. Maybe, between us, we can donate enough to restore at least one of those red roofs! It will be beautiful and safe again and I hope you will see it all for yourself someday. Thank you.
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